Two years ago today. I was still doing the old Allah blog at the time and remember watching the photos come over the wires that night, thinking it was the worst thing I’d ever see save, of course, for 9/11. That’s still true two years later, thank god.
No Islamist atrocity is complete these days without a conspiracy theory accusing the government of having secretly perpetrated the attack itself. The boss points to this article at Alertnet quoting the president of North Ossetia, where the attack happened, as blaming the Russian feds for having incompetently ignored or perhaps even deliberately destroyed evidence afterwards that would have shown more clearly which side was responsible for most of the deaths inside the school. It’s slim on details, but Time steps in to fill the gap with a short piece about a report put out by a Russian MP, of all people, challenging the official version of the attack. He claims that the president suppressed evidence of the government’s role in the incident and used it as a pretext to expand executive power. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
Savelyev states that the shots, allegedly fired by the Russians in response to explosions, could not be physically fired from their stated positions. Instead, he insists that the government forces shot first, using bazookas, flamethrowers, and then tanks and choppers, and it was in fact the first bazooka and flamethrower shots that led to the massive explosions inside the school building and the ensuing catastrophe…
[I]n fact, only ten days after the Beslan disaster, Putin made a statement that was to reshape this country drastically. Russia was at war with terrorists, Putin said, invoking “hidden enemies” and the threat to this country’s integrity. He pledged to mobilize the nation to fight back in “the total and cruel and full-scale war,” and to launch an efficient crisis-management system, “which will include principally new approaches to law enforcement agencies.”
Putin’s new program included scrapping popular elections of regional governors; allowing the parliamentary elections only on tightly controlled party tickets (which eliminates independent deputies from future Dumas); and launching the so-called Public Chamber as a token Kremlin-controlled voice of civil society.
Within two years, Putin had fully accomplished his program, outlined in the wake of the Beslan tragedy: he has a rubber-stamp Parliament. He has intimidated the mass media. He has firmly taken over Russia’s main riches of oil and gas. He subdued the regions and enlarged the powers of the FSB. In spite of that, reports of terror bombings and shootings have grown into a routine daily occurrence.
Brutality, authoritarianism, and deceit. This is Putin we’re talking about. How unlikely is this scenario?